How shows like "Friends," "Lois & Clark," and "The X-Files" are name-dropping old shows

By EW Staff
Updated December 16, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Everyone knows that Brady Bunch episode when Marcia’s face gets in the way of a flying football and she yells, ”Oh, my nose!” at least 30 times. Such scenes are a cultural heritage for a generation raised in the glow of the TV set — and Hollywood’s scriptwriters are no exception. In fact, prime time in the ’90s is littered with references to TV shows old and new. Whereas authors once alluded to Shakespeare or Plato, today’s sitcom and drama scribes use Mr. Spock’s pointy ears and the gang from Gilligan’s Island as touchstones. But, hey, the audience is more likely to get the joke. Consider these examples from the current season:

”Mom, this is how they used to fight on The Brady Bunch. We can do better.”- Margaret (Margaret Cho) on All-American Girl

”No wonder there was so much crime in (Cagney and Lacey‘s) precinct — all you had to do was outrun Tyne Daly!”-Fran (Fran Drescher) on The Nanny

”I think this is the episode of Three’s Company where there’s some kind of misunderstanding.”-Chandler (Matthew Perry) on Friends

”I wish they’d bring back Hawaii Five-0.”-Stanley (Ned Beatty) on Homicide

”If he’s a legitimate importer, then I’m Dr. Quinn!”-Cagney (Sharon Gless) on Cagney & Lacey: The Return

”I saw it on an old episode of The Untouchables.”-Clark (Dean Cain), explaining how he knew the password to a speakeasy (”The fat lady sings”), on Lois & Clark

”You’re welcome to come over Saturday night. We’re all hopping on the Internet to nitpick the scientific inaccuracies of Earth 2.”-a technogeek on The X-Files

“…and that creepy 60 Minutes watch that sounds like your whole life ticking away.”-Angela (Claire Danes), listing reasons she hates Sundays, on My So-Called Life

From a conversation on Grace Under Fire: Grace (Brett Butler): ”What I want to know is, why didn’t Tim Allen just tear down that fence and look at that guy’s face?”
Nadine (Julie White): ”Why didn’t Mr. Spock ever just (zap) Captain Kirk and take over the ship? Then he could have given Uhura a good job. What is she, the intergalactic receptionist?”
Dougie (Walter Olkewicz): ”And why wouldn’t Darrin let Samantha at least use her magic to clean the house?”

”Endorphins — wasn’t she the mom on Bewitched?”-Kenny Becket (Shadoe Stevens) on Dave’s World